Rudo y Cursi
Carlos Cuaron has written and directed half a dozen movies in his own right, so it must be a bit galling that outside Mexico he’s really only known as the kid brother of Alfonso (Children of Men; Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban).
The siblings collaborated on the script for Y Tu Mama Tambien, which Alfonso directed, and which made the names of Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna, who reteam here as half-brothers Tato – nicknamed Cursi (“Corny”) – and Beto – nicknamed Rudo (“Rough”), respectively.
The lads live in a poor and remote northern Mexican village, the kind of place where a passing car might be the most exciting thing that happens all day. As it happens, just such an event proves life-changing for Cursi. The driver needs directions to the nearest garage. Cursi is happy to oblige, and as they talk discovers the stranger is an agent. Immediately he breaks into song – singing is his passion – but Batuta (well played by Argentine comic Guillermo Francella) is not that kind of agent.
In the most egregious turn of a highly contrived set up, both brothers are prodigious talents in the village football team. Cursi is a quickfire striker. Rudo is a great keeper. And Batuta is a scout for the top clubs in the country. Only thing is… he has room for just one more prospect on his books.
How to decide which brother gets a shot at the big leagues? A penalty kick, of course…
What follows is a broad (but naturalistic) satire about a hick becoming an overnight celebrity, his love-hate relationship with his brother, and the effect of all this money and good fortune on his love-life, his football, and his family.
The movie has some interesting quirks. The way Cuaron chooses to film the matches is quite unusual, especially for what he chooses not to show… namely, football.
The comedy has a pretty sour, cynical bite: corrupt managers select players for financial gain; a TV hottie switches her affections for maximum celebrity coverage; fans are fickle and abusive; the player’s agent creams off profits and bribes officials. And it’s not just footie: the boys’ sister is being courted by the local drug baron. Their mum couldn’t be more proud.
It seems this portrait struck a chord back home. The first film from Cha Cha Cha Productions, the company formed by Guillermo del Toro, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Alfonso Cuaron, Rudo y Cursi was a big hit in Mexico. I can’t see it doing Y Tu Mama Tambien business here, though. The title gets it right: it is rough and it is cornball. Despite the generous charisma of Bernal and Luna the characters aren’t easy to warm to, and in its second half the movie gets stuck in a predictable downward spiral. As for Carlos, he’s just not in Alfonso’s league.
That said, it would be fun to see a British comedy take an equally mischievous poke at our homegrown football scene.
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